Pax Inebriata: Compass Box Eleuthera

Back in October, we brought you the story of Compass Box, the small-batch Scotch whisky producer that has won both praise and opprobrium from the rest of the Scotch world.

compassbox_eleuthera.jpgThis weekend, we finally found some. In fact, we found Compass Box at two local establishments. The first is Downtown Wine & Spirits, a large-ish liquor store in Davis Square that the coquettish and booty-shaking Mrs. Pax Arcana and us stopped into after bumping into Perry Ellis and the dashing and Yogic Mrs. Perry Ellis at Mike’s Pizza Friday night.

That store carries only Compass Box Hedonism, a superpremium blend which, at $83, was a bit too dear for a non-paycheck week during the holiday season (which puts us in a much different tax bracket than the jackass who paid $54,000 for a bottle of 1926 Macallan last week). We left it on the shelf.

Sunday we dropped into the Porter Square Liquor World, where we encountered a different style of Compass Box, Eleuthera. This bottle sells for $54 — just enough to justify the purchase (we’re writing it off as a business expense pending approval from Pax Arcana’s corporate headquarters).

Our review after the jump:

The first thing you notice about Eleuthera is the color. Most high quality Scotches are a deep brown or amber complexion. Eleuthera is a whiter shade of pale — it’s a blond when you were expecting a brunette.

But the pale color is misleading. Rather than a watery smoothness, Eleuthera packs a smoky, peaty punch at the outset. We topped one-finger pours with a few drops of clean, cold water, which released a bouquet of salty tang with orange and pepper overtones.

The smoky quality comes from the Islay single malts that form the essential flavor foundation of the blend. But Eleuthera also contains rich, smooth whiskies from inland regions, which gives the Scotch a drinkability and finish that sets it apart from most Islays. After 20 seconds on your tongue, Eleuthera’s peaty power melts into a velveteen smoothness with a vaguely citrus aftertaste.

Get some while you can, and sip it slow, because Compass Box stopped making Eleuthera two years ago. From the Web site:

Originally available in all our markets, “Eleuthera” was our very first vatted malt. Typically it combined 15 year-old malt whisky from the village of Brora, aged in re-charred hogsheads, with 12 year-old malt from the village of Port Askaig. Jim Murray said of our first release: “Quite simply, one of the most complex and truly magnificent vatted malts of all time. A collector’s piece.” Sadly, when the 15 year-old malt we needed was no longer available aged in re-charred casks, we decided to retire “Eleuthera” rather than overhaul the recipe.

Pax Verdict: 8 1/2 vikings

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5 Comments

Filed under booze

5 responses to “Pax Inebriata: Compass Box Eleuthera

  1. Perry Ellis

    I’ll be over around 7 for a dram.

    By-the-by, Pax is right to trickle a few drops of water into his whisky — in brewgeek parlance that practice “volatilizes the aromatics.”

    Real people would say the water releases the volatile alcohol compounds, oils and esters that make it so yummy. A small amount of ice works too.

  2. Lane

    Ewww, Porter Square Liquor World. I don’t like that place. If only it weren’t so conveniently located!

  3. Perry Ellis

    Yeah, that place blows dog. Expensive and a crappy selection. Not that Downtown Liquors is any great bargain, but they stock a ton of brands.

  4. Liquor World has terrible beer prices and bad wine selection, but the hard stuff is often cheaper than at Downtown. And they finally got around to stocking a small-ish selection of Belgian/Flemish/French Farmhouse/Japanese beers. They’re way in the back across from the cooler door.

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